Create a contract that will get you paid

For years, Miranda relied on email-based “handshake” agreements for freelance work. It worked really well — until it didn’t. 

Here’s the thing. Technically, your email agreement is in writing, and it can be legally enforced. However, it’s much harder to get a client to take you seriously when you don’t have an actual contract or, at the very least, a statement of work.

While many clients are likely to have their own agreements, it can help to have your own template that at least makes it easier for you to get paid. When you have an “official” agreement, clients are far more likely to take you seriously — and pay you on time.

5 things you need in your contract

When putting together a contract (or statement of work), there are a few things to include that can make your relationship with the client clear. Naturally, you need to have a section that identifies you and the client with addresses and other contact information. But there are other main clauses you don’t want to neglect:


  • Fees: Make sure to clearly state your fees, and what those fees cover. For example, Miranda might say that her standard fee is $450 for an article of 800-1,000 words that requires minimal research and no primary source interviews. She puts those parameters in the fee section to be clear and makes mention that longer articles or more research and interviews cost more and will be agreed upon before beginning such an article. Some freelancers also include a kill fee.
  • Payment terms: If you do a lot of gig work, you might just invoice at the end of the month for all work. For larger projects, you might ask for a deposit upfront, another payment halfway through, and then a final payment at the end. Consider adding a deadline. Some freelancers even tack on interest for late payments.
  • Deadlines: Depending on the project, you might include a number of articles for delivery each week or month, or you might have a full-on schedule for a project like writing a book. Either way, create some sort of expectation for a timeline for work. This can also help you establish deadlines for payment.
  • Revisions: Limit the number of revisions you do. It’s fairly standard to offer up to two rounds of revisions. If it takes more than that to complete revisions, there’s a communication issue.
  • Copyright: Finally, your contract should be clear about who owns the copyright. In most cases, it’s going to be the client. 


The resources section of the Freelance Writer Academy features a contract/agreement template for members. Enroll in a course today to get access to additional resources and help with your freelance writing career.